by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

Discover beautiful Tampa on this virtual tour

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Tampa is a bit of an unsung destination in Florida, home to world-class museums, pristine white sand beaches, a lively waterfront and sunny weather throughout the year.

Downtown Tampa, a business and commercial hub, sits right on the waterfront, with its high rises towering above excellent museums, restaurants, shops and bars.

The Tampa Riverwalk stretches for 2.4 miles through the heart of the city. The walkable, bikeable path connects some of the city’s top attractions.

Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin Quarter, ranks among the city’s most celebrated neighborhoods. Historic 7th Avenue, or “La Setima” as locals call it, runs through the heart of the neighborhood.

Ybor City was once known as the Cigar Capital of the World, thanks to immigrants Gavino Gutierrez, Vicente Martinez Ybor and Ignacio Haya who began manufacturing cigars in Tampa in the late 1800s.

You’re likely to encounter wild chickens in Ybor City. These legally protected fowl are direct descendants of the chickens brought by original residents more than a century ago.

Photo: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay

One of the best ways to get between Downtown Tampa and historic Ybor City is aboard the TECO Line Streetcar, a 2.7-mile electric heritage streetcar that’s completely free to ride.

Tampa has evolved into one of the nation’s top craft brewing destinations. This history dates back to 1896, when cigar factory owners joined forces to found the Florida Brewing Company.

Colorful Sparkman Wharf along the Garrison Channel in downtown Tampa is the go-to place for waterfront dining, drinking and live music.

Photo: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay

Orlando may be the Theme Park Capital of the World, but Tampa is home to one of the best in the nation. Park goers at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay enjoy 300 acres of rides and attractions.

Video: Busch Gardens Tampa

The historic neighborhood of Hyde Park has long been one of Tampa’s most fashionable zip codes — a residential neighborhood of historic homes and bungalows.

Photo: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay

Those looking to escape the city can grab a paddle to explore the Hillsborough River just outside the urban center, where it’s possible to spot turtles, alligators and birds.

Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard is known as the World’s Longest Continuous Sidewalk, stretching for 4.5 miles along Tampa Bay. You’ll find people out on the trail at almost all hours of the day.

Downtown Tampa is within 30 minutes of some of Florida’s best beaches, making it an ideal base for sun seekers. The blindingly white sands of Clearwater Beach are just a short drive away.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the pirate José Gaspar plundered along the coast of West Florida. Each year, Tampa celebrates its pirate history with the Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

Photo: Keir Magoulas | Visit Tampa Bay

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